Riyadh. Neymar Jr. has been confirmed to play in the Saudi Arabian league with Al Hilal after six seasons with Paris Saint-Germain. According to press reports, the clubs have agreed to transfer the Brazilian striker for 98 million dollars.
This is the largest amount the Saudi league, backed by a state of the board, has given away as it continues its project of lavish spending on world-class stars.
Al Hilal, the country’s most successful team with 18 national titles, is one of four Saudi clubs that have been nationalized by the State Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth that claims to have assets in excess of $700 billion.
Neymar, 31, has received a two-season contract with Riyadh. His annual salary will exceed $100 million.
This is about half the salary of 38-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo at Al-Nasr, the other team in this league. The acquisition of the Portuguese star triggered an exodus of players to Saudi Arabia, with Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Roberto Firmino, Riyad Mahrez and Jordan Henderson following in his footsteps.
Yesterday, Al Hilal posted a video on his social media to announce the signing of the Brazilian national team. “I’m here in Saudi Arabia, my name is Hilali,” the player said.
“I have achieved a lot in Europe and enjoyed special moments, but I have always wanted to be a world class footballer and challenge myself with new challenges and opportunities in different places,” Neymar added in the announcement. “I want to write a new sports story and there are amazing, high quality players in the Saudi Arabian league right now.”
PSG have confirmed Neymar’s departure in a statement. Nasser Al-Khelaifi, President and CEO of PSG, considers him “one of the best players in the world”.
In six seasons at PSG, the Brazilian won several national titles. But they have never been able to win the European Champions League, a goal that is an obsession for the Qatar-controlled club.
He landed in Paris in 2017 from Barcelona for a record $244 million.
He scored 118 goals in 173 matches and became the fourth goalscorer for the Parisians.